Is pessimism inevitably the sign of decline, decadence, waywardness, of wearied, enfeebled instincts? - As once it was with the Hindus, as it seems to be with us 'modern' Europeans? Is there a pessimism of strength? An intellectual predilection for what is hard, terrible, evil, problematic in existence, arising from well-being, overflowing health, the abundance of existence? Is it perhaps possible to suffer from over abundance? A tempting and challenging, sharp-eyed courage that craves the terrible as one craves the enemy, the worthy enemy, against whom it can test its strength? Wishing to learn from it the meaning of 'fear'?
What can we take away from this? Is optimism and pessimism simply about understanding how to direct ourselves toward the inevitable difficulties of existence?
I think we can all agree that both pessimism and optimism can be bad for us. What do we do about recognizing when either turns bad? What goals can we set before us to gauge our attitudes?
I recently had a curious thought about our innate individual optimism and how it functions in our personal development and the develop of society. Meaning, what factors are in place to counter our innate optimism within social structures?
Just in case you don't believe in our natural tendencies toward a more personal optimistic outlook you can test this on anyone you know quite easily. You ask someone how likely it is they think they'll get cancer in their lifetime. Whatever percentage they come up with compared to some pretend 'truth' you tell them will show their innate optimism. If your information is negative they may shift a little to accommodate the new information, let us say they think 50% chance, and you tell them it's actually a 80% chance. They may shift to around 60% chance. Whilst if you told them the chance was only 30% they'd instantly adjust their belief to this new data and be happy to say 30% of getting cancer. This has been tested on a neurological level and we now know this 'optimism' is innate.
This makes sense in terms of humans being explorative creatures and willing to step out of their comfort zones. What I see as a counter to this is our proclivity to follow the group, the social dynamic seems to counter us overstretching, to stop us all being 'manic' creatures thrilled by the idea of exploration.
To sum this though up in a very vague way, I guess I am suggesting something like "The individual is optimistic, and social structures are pessimistic." Meaning group mentality is more inclined to view any new idea as being negative whilst the individual is more likely to view any new idea with optimism. This is because the collective views of new information have a weaker impact, being open to more instances of counter arguments because of varying degrees of what is considered 'good'/'positive'. All individuals will be inclined to the 'optimistic' outlook, so if they deem the information to go against them they'll be repulsed by it, whilst those who see the benefit will adhere to it.
Given this simple dynamic it seems likely that we have to be innately optimistic to balance our various personal perspectives and progress ideas.
What are your thoughts on my ideas here and/or Nietzsche's quote above?